Posts Tagged ‘Papua New Guinea’

Inside International CTE: Papua New Guinea and the CTE System

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Heather Singmaster visited Papua New Guinea and discusses the educational system’s challenges and some ways the government is implementing innovative solutions. This is part of our ongoing series examining international education systems in partnership with Asia Society’s Global Learning blog on EdWeek.

Traditionally in Papua New Guinea (PNG), there has not been much investment in human resources. Yet, with high population growth expected—approximately seven million today and projected to grow to 11 million by 2050 and then double every 30 years thereafter—the country will have no choice but to face this challenge. Perhaps that is why the PNG government chose last month to host the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Human Resource Development in the capital, Port Moresby, which I had the honor of attending and serving as a guest speaker.

One way the government is attempting to address the human capital challenge is by expanding access to vocational education and training (VET). This is a strategy being pursued by other economies in the Asia-Pacific region, whether they are emerging or not.

Challenges
In the past, VET in PNG was considered the responsibility of the provinces. According to the UNESCO report Education for All 2000-2015, students could begin attending vocational training centres after successfully completing the basic education programme at the end of grade 8. An option today for students who complete lower secondary education is to attend technical colleges, which offer one-year Pre-employment Technical Training courses (currently being replaced by a two-year Technical Training Certificate programme.) Additionally, the Papua New Guinea Education Institute offers a three-year course for grade 10 graduates leading to the Certificate of Elementary Teaching.

Given these various options, one of the biggest challenges facing VET in PNG right now is the issue of coordination among the three different government bodies reponsible for VET: the Department of Education (TVET Division); the National Training Council and the National Apprenticeship and Trade Testing Board (NATTB) at the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations; and the Office of Higher Education. The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations is responsible for setting the national standards and curriculum, and they also administer the nation’s apprenticeship program. This fragmented system contributes to a lack of clarity about different roles, making reform difficult and also leading to budgetary issues as outlined below.

Aligning Practice with Industry Needs
Thumbnail image for FullSizeRender-3.jpgI had the opportunity to visit one of the four main government-run technical colleges, Port Moresby Technical College (called Pom Tech for short). They accept students from across the country and currently enroll 628 students full time. With only approximately 200 boarding spots available, most students have to find their own housing, which is extremely difficult in Port Moresby where housing is limited and expensive. There are only 62 female students, which is primarily because there are only that number of beds available to them at the school and staying outside is not feasible for women.

The school offers programs in 10 different trades with 30 different specialties, and is in the process of adding four more, including automotive electrical and refrigeration, as soon as the standards and curriculum are approved. Women are allowed to take any course they choose, but the majority are in the printing pathway (which includes desktop publishing, graphics, and offset printing). The most popular courses for men are electrical and mechanical.

One additional dorm is reserved for the apprentice program. Students work full-time as apprentices, but come to the school for eight weeks each year to study. During the course of the three-year program they earn Level One through Three certificates.

Pom Tech also serves as the Trade Testing Center. Anyone can come and take tests, beginning with Level One, to be granted certificates and recognition for skills they have—no matter where they learned them.

Striking to me was the fact that in a country where mining and oil production are the biggest industries, there were no courses in these fields offered to full-time students. Apparently this is because the companies doing this work (mainly foreign companies) provide their own training, with some exceptions such as the short courses provided “on demand” to the companies by Pom Tech. For instance, a gold mine may send workers to Pom Tech for a four-week course designed specifically for them. These are only possible when the staff, which appeared to be stretched, has the time.

However, industry involvement in the system is critical to its overall success and providing more than just apprenticeships is important to upgrading it. By keeping training in these key areas as a function of companies, there is no investment into the local workforce, leading to more expenses in terms of either bringing in workers from abroad or having to hold these extensive training courses.

Strengths
There are many issues plaguing the PNG education system. Yet, there are a few areas where they are making strides:

National Standards and a Qualifications Framework
The VET standards are established through a process led by the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations that involves boards of industry-specific experts. The certificates students earn aligned to these standards are recognized nationally based on the National Qualifications Framework. During the APEC meeting there was much discussion of whether APEC should work toward a regional qualifications framework, an idea that PNG endorsed.

Regional Cooperation
This month marks the beginning of a Memorandum of Understanding signed between PNG and the Philippines to provide assistance on building capacity at VET colleges. Such agreements are not unique to PNG; during the APEC discussions, Australia presented on the work it has been doing on building qualification frameworks with other countries in the region. And Singapore is often providing technical assistance to emerging vocational systems.

Apprenticeships
Creating or expanding access to apprenticeship programs that work well with industry and provide training in a technical college is a goal of many education systems today across the globe—including in economies much more advanced than PNG‘s. The program that Pom Tech has established seems to be popular, well supported, and running smoothly via a partnership created between government and industry.

Papua New Guinea has far to go, they are eager to learn from others and are opening up to the world. Notably, they are focused on not only developing their natural resources but also developing their human resources. To meet this goal, they are beginning to integrate innovative practices—including global competence and expansion of VET—into their education systems, which can provide an inspiring example for others, including more developed countries.

Read part one on how Papua New Guinea prioritizes global competence in education. 

Follow Heather on Twitter. 

Photo courtesy of the author.

By Katie Fitzgerald in Uncategorized
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Inside International CTE: Papua New Guinea

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Heather Singmaster visited Papua New Guinea and discusses the educational system’s challenges and some ways the government is implementing innovative solutions. This is part of our ongoing series examining international education systems in partnership with Asia Society’s Global Learning blog on EdWeek.

Before heading to Papua New Guinea to speak at the APEC High Level Policy Dialogueon Human Resource Development in the capital Port Moresby last month, my American peers asked me many things: Will you see natives with faces painted like skulls? Did you know they have the world’s largest species of rat?  Isn’t it one of the poorest countries in the world?

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What I found is a country that, yes, is very poor and facing what may seem to be overwhelming challenges. But, despite these, Papua New Guinea is taking positive steps to address them, including a budget that is focused on the pillars of health, education, infrastructure development, and increased funding direct to the provinces.

And while the vision of dancing natives is what the country is known for, it should also be known for the fact that it is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, with more than 800 languages spoken within its borders. It is also one of the most rural countries in world, separating people by vast mountains and water—there are over 600 outlying islands. As someone said to me, “it’s like 800 countries in one.” This is an asset that the government has recognized. Despite facing the huge challenge of providing education for all students, they are prioritizing an education infused with global competence.

For many education systems, there is a common perception that a basic education must be offered first, before they can even begin thinking about integrating 21st century skills. Yet, making a quality 21st century education a pillar of an expanding system provides opportunities to leapfrog those that are still focused on outdated models (such as a narrow focus on academic knowledge and rote memorization) which result in limited dividends for their students and future workforce.

A Complex Set of Challenges
Now, I am by no means an expert on Papua New Guinea (PNG) after my short visit, but I did do some background research and had the chance to talk with people representing all walks of life: bus drivers, government officials, a lawyer who handles domestic abuse cases (a rampant issue in the country), a recently graduated university student, an expat business owner, and people who had moved from the provinces to the city looking for a job and a better way to live.

One recurring theme of these conversations is that jobs and government services—including education and health care—are in short supply and in some rural areas, extremely limited. Many people live in extreme poverty and the word corruption came up on more than one occasion. Yet Papua New Guinea is also a land rich in natural resources; development is improving the economy and leading to some infrastructure development, such as new roads around the capital.

However, there has not been much investment in human resources, a challenge the government is looking to address through new education initiatives including an expansion of vocational education and training (VET—which I will cover in my next post).

Educating for Global Competence
With development comes an increased interest in putting Papua New Guinea onto the world stage. In addition to the APEC dialogue on human resource development, which functioned as a practice run for 2018 when Papua New Guinea will be hosting numerous annual APEC meetings and the APEC ministerial convening, PNG is hosting the Pan Pacific Games this summer. In an era of globalization, the government is promoting some progressive ideas including global education and frameworks for responsible, sustainable development.

Nowhere is there a better argument for teaching global competency than Papua New Guinea due to the diversity within its borders and its aspirations to emerge on the world stage. Global competency has been recognized by the government and was clearly reflected in the priorities of the previous National Curriculum: culture and community, language, mathematics, personal development, and science. It stated, in part:

“The curriculum will prepare students who are more flexible for a changing world…. (its) principles are based on significant cultural, social, and educational values and beliefs such as: (i) bilingual education: education in vernaculars and English; (ii) citizenship: roles, rights, and responsibilities in society; (iii) law and order: good governance; and (iv) lifelong learning: applied learning. The National Curriculum is inclusive and designed to meet the needs of all students irrespective of their abilities, gender, geographic locations, cultural and language backgrounds, or their socio-economic backgrounds.”

School in Papua New Guinea is not compulsory, but it is free. According to an interview with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, published in the local paper, Post-Courier, while I was there, one of his proudest achievements is abolishing the school fees that were such a burden on his family when he was growing up. One effect of eliminating these fees is that more children, especially girls, are now able to go to school.

But it has also led to a huge shortage of teachers, lack of school buildings, and shortages of curricular resources. To his credit, the Prime Minister has acknowledged that the policy was not going as planned because the government was not delivering public services effectively and on time.

There were also issues with implementing the curriculum due to the difficulty of switching to an outcome-based approach with limited teacher training and resources (challenges also faced by Australia in trying to implement a similar pedagogy). However, the current curriculum maintains an emphasis on global education—for example elementary education has three focus areas: language, culture and community, and cultural mathematics.

As Papua New Guinea demonstrates, global competence is relevant to developing and developed countries alike. In recognition of this, the global education community has recently come together around a single set of goals that aim to accelerate progress in delivering quality education for all of the world’s children and youth. Organizations such as A World at School, the Global Business Coalition for Education, and Business Backs Education are supporting universal access to a quality education that provides 21st century skills for employability and global citizenship.

Learn more about how to be involved in the #UpForSchools campaign.

Come back on Wednesday to learn about the vocational education system in Papua New Guinea.

By Katie Fitzgerald in Uncategorized
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